Tharman pledges to build ‘future of optimism, solidarity’ as president, Latest Singapore News - The New Paper

Tharman pledges to build ‘future of optimism, solidarity’ as president

President-elect Tharman Shanmugaratnam pledged to use his presidency to help build a future of optimism and solidarity among all Singaporeans.

Making his first remarks to the media after early indications that he had won the election by a landslide, Mr Tharman said his win was a vote of confidence in Singapore’s future.

“I pledge and it will be my duty to use the roles and responsibilities of the president to advance this future of optimism and solidarity among Singaporeans. That is my pledge,” Mr Tharman said at the Taman Jurong Market and Food Centre, surrounded by hundreds of jubilant supporters.

“Once again, let me just say that I am truly humbled, and I will honour the trust that Singaporeans have placed in me and respect all Singaporeans for the views they have expressed, including those who did not vote for me.”

Mr Tharman, 66, will be Singapore’s ninth president. He won the election with a vote share of 70.4 per cent.


His rivals, Mr Ng Kok Song and Mr Tan Kin Lian, received 15.72 and 13.88 per cent of the vote, respectively.

Thanking Singaporeans, Mr Tharman said his win was both a vote of confidence in Singapore, and also “a vote of optimism for a future in which we can progress together and support each other as Singaporeans”.

“That has been my platform, and I believe it has received strong endorsement by Singaporeans,” he said.

During his presidential election campaign, the former senior minister had often cited his track record in connecting with people from all backgrounds in Jurong, and said if he was elected, he would support ground-up initiatives to uplift the disadvantaged and work to bridge diverse views in society.

Mr Tharman is the first non-Chinese presidential candidate to win a contested election.

In his remarks to the media, he pointed out that this was a contested election with a multiracial slate.

“I have always said that race is never absent in politics anywhere in the world, or even in an apolitical election like this case. Race is never absent, but it is not the only factor.

“And I think with each half decade, Singapore is changing and evolving, and I hope that my being elected president is seen as another milestone in that process of evolution.”

Before he stepped down from his posts to run in the election, Mr Tharman had been an MP for Jurong GRC’s Taman Jurong division for over two decades.

It was where he made his political debut in the 2001 General Election. Over the years, the veteran politician built a solid base of support in the constituency.

In the 2020 General Election, Mr Tharman led the People’s Action Party’s Jurong GRC team to a thumping victory, with a 74.62 per cent vote share.

Political observers said it was Mr Tharman’s relatability and personality that helped him get such an overwhelming lead.

Dr Mustafa Izzuddin, a senior international affairs analyst at Solaris Strategies Singapore, said Mr Tharman was one of the more respected and popular ministers before he resigned from the Cabinet.

“I think the primary reason people voted for him is because of his honesty, sincerity, his genuineness and his international standing,” said Dr Mustafa.

“Among the three candidates, he was the one who was able to articulate the role of the president the best.”

Some of the key issues during the hustings included the limit of the president’s role, how he would perform his custodial functions, as well as his independence from the establishment.

Mr Ng cited his credentials as former GIC chief investment officer and emphasised that he had the financial nous for the job. He also stressed that he was the only candidate without any prior party affiliations.

Meanwhile, Mr Tan, the former chief executive of NTUC Income, who was seen largely as the anti-establishment candidate, had prominent opposition politicians including Dr Tan Cheng Bock and Mr Tan Jee Say throw their support behind him.

During his campaign, Mr Tan would often bring up bread-and-butter issues, and stoke what his critics said were xenophobic and nativist sentiments.

“It became a polarising contest, and voters in the middle ground became cautious and decided pragmatically to vote for Tharman,” said Dr Mustafa.


Mr Tharman’s early lead, once the sample counts were published, meant the contest was as good as over even before the official results were announced.

But the writing was on the wall from about 10pm.

Then, Mr Tan arrived at his home in Yio Chu Kang where his supporters had gathered after visiting several counting centres. He went straight inside without saying much to reporters.

Meanwhile, Mr Tharman was mobbed by hundreds of jubilant supporters when he arrived at Taman Jurong Market and Food Centre.

Both Mr Ng and Mr Tan would go on to congratulate Mr Tharman before the official results were announced.

Singapore presidential electionElected PresidentSingapore PoliticsTharman Shanmugaratnam